Launched on Oct. 15, 1997, Cassini’s mission to explore Saturn ended on Sept. 15, 2017 with a deliberate plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere which was called “The Grand Finale“. After 20 years in space—13 of those years exploring Saturn—Cassini exhausted its fuel supply. This mission went on for 19 years, 11 months, 0 days, 3 Hours, 12 Minutes and 46 Seconds.The spacecraft collected and transmitted data until the very last seconds of the mission. Today, that is September 15th, marks the first anniversary of the Cassini Space Probe Grand finale that took place an year ago. Let’s go through the remarkable journey of Cassini from our soil to the gigantic rings.
1) First visitor to the outer solar system.
Cassini-Huygens was the first to orbit Saturn. It was the first mission that made a successful landing in the outer solar system. It was also the first to sample an extraterrestrial ocean.
2) Uncovering secrets of Titan
Cassini-Huygens revealed Titan to be one of the most Earth-like worlds we’ve encountered. It landed on Cassini’s largest moon Titan and made many geographical discoveries of the giant moon. Cassini revealed Saturn’s moons to be unique worlds with have their own stories to tell.
3) Kind of a time machine?
Cassini in a sense was travelling in time. Travelling between heavenly bodies of drastically different time zones, Cassini revealed the processes that likely shaped the development of our solar system.
4) Longest orbital survey of an outer planet
Cassini being such a long mission, allowed us to study the outer planetary and space conditions in peace. The weather and seasonal changes in the outer space and on the environment surrounding Saturn could be studied deeply.
5) Exploring the mighty ringed planet
What Cassini found at Saturn prompted scientists to rethink their understanding of the solar system. The spectacular pictures of the rings obtained from Cassini left the scientists in awe. Cassini showed us the complexity of Saturn’s rings and the dramatic processes operating within them. It revealed the beauty of Saturn, its rings and moons, inspiring our sense of wonder.